Large Computer Pointers/Cursors

Current computer operating systems use a small icon called a pointer or cursor that moves on the screen when the mouse is moved. The most common pointers are an arrow, a vertical bar that appears in word processing document (sometimes called the I-Beam), and a hand that appears on web pages when the pointer is on top of a link. These pointers can be quite small or may blend in with the background, making them difficult to see, especially for people with low vision.

This article discusses several ways to make the pointer more visible. Utilities built into the operating system can make the pointer easier to see by making it larger, providing higher contrast, or providing supplemental visual cues. If these are not sufficient, some third-party programs have additional capabilities.

Try It Yourself:

Pointer modification: Provides themes that change the color and size of the standard pointers. One Windows option has an option for animating the pointers, which may help in catching users' attention.

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7: Go to "Start," "Control Panel," "Mouse," “Pointers”
  • Macintosh (cursor size modification only): Go to “Apple,” “System Preferences,” “Universal Access,” “Mouse & Trackpad”

Pointer locator: Uses a large, animated “bullseye” to indicate the current location of the pointer.

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7: Go to "Start," "Control Panel," "Mouse," “Pointer Options,” “Visibility,” and click “Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key”

Pointer trails: Shows the pointer trail, not just the current location, making it easier to see.

  • Windows XP, Vista, 7: Go to "Start," "Control Panel," "Mouse," “Pointer Options,” “Visibility,” and click “Display Pointer Trails” checkbox.

Third Party Options:

  • Magnification programs, such as ZoomText and MAGic, frequently have additional options to help people find the pointer. These may include crosshairs that meet at the current location of the pointer, or arrows that appear above and below the I-Bar.
  • RJ Cooper & Associates sells a software program called Biggy, which provides very large pointer options for Windows or Macintosh computers. Some of these pointers are animated.
  • Windows programs such as IconMaker (which is free) allow you to create custom pointers. These can then be placed in your Cursors folder, and can be selected as part of any theme in the "Mouse," "Pointer Options" control panel.

Have a question?

Ask an Expert